As Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev prepares for today’s meeting with the US President at the White House, twelve human rights organizations urge the US government to help solidify recent reforms in Uzbekistan.
In a joint statement, the NGOs recommend that the US Congress raise ongoing human rights violations in Uzbekistan during Mirziyoev’s visit.
Major steps toward improving the human rights record in Uzbekistan has been taken since the death of previous president Islam Karimov. However, thousands of people remain behind bars on politically motivated charges. Internet censorship, torture and practices related to freedom of religion or belief are serious concerns raised by the 12 organisations.
On May 9, Uzbekistan underwent its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in the UN Human Rights Council. Uzbekistan’s last review in this important human rights body took place in 2013.
Senior Adviser in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Ivar Dale, was present at the UPR of Uzbekistan in 2013, and again at the review last week. According to him, the contrast between the two reviews could not have been greater.
“Several states commended Uzbekistan for the release of political prisoners, and for its gradual opening up to international human rights organizations and journalists. It was heartening to see that the review was held in a positive atmosphere, with countries from all corners of the world expressing hope that Uzbekistan will continue on this new path it has embarked on”, said Dale.
“Still, the reforms are only beginning, and require thorough commitment from the Uzbek government as well as its international partners, if international human rights standards are to be respected in Uzbekistan in the years to come. Many delegations rightly pointed out that Uzbekistan still has a long way to go”, he continued.
The organizations behind today’s appeal are Amnesty International, Article 19, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, Civil Rights Defenders, Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House, Freedom Now, Human Rights Watch, International Partnership for Human Rights, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Reporters Without Borders, and the Uzbek German Forum for Human Rights. The statement can be read here.